A customer stumbled across your website, browsed your merchandise and eagerly added items to your site’s shopping cart. Another satisfied customer, right? Not quite. Until the customer enters his credit-card information and confirms the purchase, there are still several ways the sale, and possibly the customer, can slip away.
In a 2010 report by Forrester Research that surveyed online customers, the top reasons for not completing an online purchase were: high shipping costs; total amount was more than expected; shopping cart was used for research; and the checkout process was too complicated. Given these reasons, it comes as no surprise that Forrester found that 88 percent of online consumers have abandoned their online shopping carts without completing a transaction. One of the most effective methods of reducing shopping cart abandonment is to reduce the number of required steps in the checkout process.
To some merchants, cart abandonment may be perceived as simply one of the risks when operating an online business. However, as competition intensifies and customers become savvier, businesses should take proactive measures to attract and retain customers and provide a unique online experience to decrease cart-abandonment rates. In order to do so, here are a few tips and strategies any small or midsize business can use:
• Obtain a verified seal of approval: Incorporate a third-party service, such as buySAFE, to validate your online store. These accreditations show consumers that the online business is reputable and all personal information shared on the site is protected and secured. According to buySAFE, retailers with its seal increased their conversation rate by six percent. In addition, security badges, SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates, privacy policies and “shop with confidence” links can all ease a customer’s fears of sharing personal information with you.
• Keep the cart alive: According to a SeeWhy study, 10 percent of males and 26 percent of females abandoned a cart because they wanted to complete the purchase later. Many customers expect their carts to remain intact when they return.
• Provide online coupons: Make online coupon codes available on third-party websites that provide consumers with a discount on their whole purchase.
• Offer free shipping: Offering free delivery is one way to enhance the benefit of online shopping. If you can’t offer free shipping, make sure to link your order management and fulfilment system directly to your carrier. This will allow you to provide your customers with the lowest shipping price when they checkout.
• Make your site less noisy: Implement design changes that make your site less cluttered. Change the colour and size of the proceed to checkout button to make it bolder or remove the side navigation menu on the website. This way, consumers will focus on the products they want to buy, rather than giving them other options to move throughout the site.
• Capture relevant data: Capture and study shopping abandonment data regularly and test your site to increase conversion percentages from basket to paid order. In addition, use a strategic email tool to run target campaigns and drive consumers back to the site to complete orders. Consider implementing a trigger-email programme to combat abandonment.
• Switch your shopping cart model: Implement a persistent shopping cart to allow returning consumers to view the items left in their cart and have the ability to complete the transaction.
• Take advantage of retargeting: Use retargeting services—the process that tracks users’ online behaviour to display ads to them after they have your website—to put products and offers in front of customers to drive incremental sales.
• Navigation of the checkout process: Ensure that your checkout process is user friendly and that customers can easily add, update or delete. Click here for some tips on how to create a more effective checkout process.
• Use online validation: Instead of showing errors after a form has been submitted, notify customers of incorrect input as they fill out the form using online validation. One usability study found a 22 percent improvement in success rate with this tactic.
• Decode the CVV: Not everyone will know what a CVV number is, so explain it. Because it’s crucial for an online transaction, you may need to show novice online shoppers where to find it on their payment cards.
• Make you site accessible to all consumers: Ensure that your site is accessible to disabled consumers. One billion disabled customers control more than $9 trillion and represent a market almost as large as China. Optimise your site so that it’s easily understood by screen readers, ensure that your form fields remain consistent even when magnified and provide descriptive alt tags when writing links, for starters. For more best practice advice, the World Wide Web Consortium.
• Optimise for performance: Consumers’ expectation for page load speed are increasing. According to Forrester Research, 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40 percent would abandon if it takes more than three seconds.
Brendan Considine is the sales director at MailSolve, the sole UK distributor for Dydacomp, a provider of business technology platforms for small and midsized ecommerce and multichannel merchants.
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